tv Politics Public Policy Today CSPAN September 17, 2014 5:30pm-7:01pm EDT
i wish you would extend the huge gratitude of the administration and of the world for this incredible job well done. you are absolutely correct. the president announced he was going to strike. we had been talking with the russians and others about how to get the weapons out. and then the deal came together and took away the necessity for the president to make a judgment he would have made, whether or not to strike under his constitutional power based on the announcement he made. clearly, getting one 100% of the declared weapons out, we still have questions about a few other things. but 100%, 1,300 tons of weapons out completely and destroyed is the first time that has ever happened in the time of conflict in any part of the world. i will tell you, ask netanyahu, ask people in the region, they will tell you they are safer.
you have an x factor that has been eliminated from this equation of what we may or may not do in syria. as a consequence of that action. >> thank you. thank you for the excellent work when you are doing. turkey doesn't want to become part of our combat operations because isil has hostages from turkey. at the same time, turkey has become the destination for the oil which has been captured by the isil army in both iraq and in syria. it's upwards of 1 million to $3 million a day, $300 million to a billion dollars in the course of a year. the smuggled oil has become the life blood of the isil army. talk a little bit about turkey
and what are efforts are going to be to shut that down. without that money, they don't have the money to produce hollywood-style videos. they don't have the money to pay soldiers. they don't have the money to take care of cities and towns they are taking over. talk about what we have to do with turkey to just get them to shut this down. >> senator, it's a very, very relevant question and one we're working on very hard, obviously. we really do understand the sensitivities that turkey has. i don't want to talk about it too much publically, to be honest with you, because of that. i think we're better off having a classified conversation about this. but i have hopes that as we move forward here over time that the current dynamic may be able to shift in a way that will help us deal with that a lot more. turkey understands the challenges, believe me. we have had some very candid conversations about it.
turkey will have to make its decisions in the days ahead. we will see what happens. >> it's unconscionable that occurty has become the principal source of funding for isil. if we can shut that down, we do almost immeasurable damage to their ability to finance this war. i just think we have to put turkey right front and center and have the world say to them, they must stop. let me move on. the language which is in the resolution says that one of the goals is to promote the conditions for a settlement to end the conflict in syria. we'll be voting on that. experts are saying that it will take upwards of three years to resecure the border between iraq
and syria. experts are also saying that it will take up to ten years to create the conditions on the to the table in order to, in d fact, have a negotiated settlement. so i would ask you to talk about those two time lines that experts are talking about, regin the weakness of the free syrian army, how long it will take to push the isil army out of iraq. the american people want to know how long we are going to be engaged in this effort towards that end game. >> let me talk macro in a sense here. i have heard various accounts of summaries of various experts, some of whom are experts and
some of whom are called experts. there's only one expert right now that i'm looking to, and that's general john allen. he has the responsibility here. he is putting together his team very rapidly. he is having meetings. and i will listen to him very carefully before i start pushing out time lines. now, that said, president obama said it will take a number of years to do the broad-based effort that we're at. you can do a lot to isil and then you have a longer fight as you go into the full destruction and defeat mode, so to speak. i got to tell you -- this is something i expect to talk about with this committee and congress over the course of the next months. the fight of our generation is a
combined fight against the immediate challenge of radical religious extremist and its exploitation in various parts of the world and large unemployed populations of young people without good governance and without dignity, respect. this is a challenge we face, all of us, in all countries that consider themselves developed and near developed and civilized. it's our challenge. we need to figure out how we're going to do all the things we need to do. this is part of what president obama talked about when he went to west point and about the focus on count erterrorism and the need to talk more as we go forward in the days ahead about exactly how we're going to fill out the full agenda of our
country to be safe in the long-term. it is a big, long-term operation. that part of it is is going to take years and the united states, i think it is clear, is going to have to lead that effort. that's going to require a different attitude about foreign policy and engagement than a lot of people have been willing to embrace. i look forward to that discussion very much. we're doing our homework to be able to come to you with thoughtful ideas about how we can deal with it. >> thank you, mr. secretary. we are very fortunate to have you as the person sitting in that seat. thank you. >> you are, because you're now in my seat. >> the most fortunate of them all. >> mr. secretary, thank you for your engagement here today. you became the secretary of state at a time in which i have never seen in 22 years in the congress a confluence of challenges globally as they exist right now. the topic we have been
discussing here for the last three hours, the challenge of isil, the russian invasion in ukraine, the challenges of ebola in africa, the reality of our continuing challenge with iran and its search for nuclear weapons and the list goes on and on. your service comes at an extraordinarily important time. we want to salute you. i do want to make one or two final comments. number one, this sh is going to an issue in which more information and a steady flow of information in briefings will be critical to having the congressional understanding and the ultimate support for what i believe is our mutual mission to defeat isil. i just want to say that on various occasions you have legitimately said that we need to have some of these conversations in classified settings. i will say that i look forward
to and intend to hold those classified hearings. but i hope it's going to be as robust so that whether we get into a classified hearing we don't have to hear, i can't talk about that in that context. that will be problematic. secondly, there have been many -- i don't question anybody's intentions here. i always believe that there are many legitimate questions. there are certainly legitimate questions when we think about putting america's sons and daughters into harm's way. we are strongest in the national challenge that we face when we speak with one voice, as democrats, republicans and independents together as americans. it is that unity of purpose i think that will be critical -- a critical element of our success against isil. this is a moment in which politics must stop at the water's edge. this committee for the last two years has taken on a whole host of major foreign policy and
national security challenges in a bipartisan way. i look forward to working with my colleagues to come together y to do that in this most critical case. i think we can. finally, i remind those who are concerned about the use of u.s. military might in a foreign country that we face the world as it is, not as we wish it to be. i don't know how you negotiate with an entity that beheads americans. so thank you, mr. secretary, for your testimony engagement for what i expect will be a continuing engagement. i do want to urge colleagues, we have an important panel coming up with a lot of information. i hope members will stay or come back. >> i will be very, very brief. thank you very much -- i look forward to having those discussions. i think you know this, i long
believe that the chairman and ranking member should have the same input as the chair and ranking member of the other committees, armed services, etc., intel because of the poli policy considerations. i have advocated for that within this administration. it's something that i think ought to happen. >> thank you. >> thank you, mr. secretary. we appreciate your testimony. let me call up our second panel today as the secretary leaves. the committee will come to order. i will ask the capital police to remove individuals who will not come to order. our second panel today is robert ford, senior fellow of the middle east institute and
ambassador ford, of course, has a long and distinguished history in the foreign service of the united states which he did so exceptionally well in syria. and ben conable. i appreciate both of you, both in your written statements will be included in the record in its entirety without objection. and i appreciate your willingness to hang in there for the last several hours and to still be here to provide what i think is some critical testimony and insight. with the thanks of the committee to both of you, i will recommend -- i will recognize senator -- i will recognize ambassador ford first. then we'll turn to mr. coable. ambassador ford.
>> mr. chairman, senator johnson and other distinguished guests and members of the committee, it's a very big honor to be with you today. i thank you for the invitation. as you noted, i submitted a written statement. so let me just make a few opening remarks. then i'll turn it over to my co-panelist ben. many have spoken about the dangers of the islamic state against us and against our allies in the region. i would note that i have been looking on arabic social media sites. some of the language is blood curdling. i take these people at their word. they do present a serious danger to us. the administration's proposal to increase assistance to moderate
elements of the armed opposition in syria will be useful as one part of addressing the islamic straight threat and the administration's proposal deserves congressional support. i understand from you -- secretary kerry, that the house has voted. i hope the senate does as well, as soon as possible. let me just make three points. first -- i heard it again today here. people question whether there is a moderate armed opposition. but there is. and it is already fighting the islamic state. i put some details about some of the groups in my written testimony, mr. chairman. when i say moderate, what i mean by that word is that its leaders, the leaders of this these groups do not seek to impose a religious state on
syrian society by force. many of them are islamists, mr. chairman. but they do not seek to impose a religious state by force. that said, there are no angels in the syrian war now. however, the moderate groups emanate from what were peaceful protest movements around syria in 2011. these are the protest movements that i myself saw. and their leaders accept the idea that there has to be an eventual political deal in syria. that also makes them moderate. some of these groups, including groups in my written testimony, had representatives at the talks where secretary kerry was present. my second point is these moderates now are fighting the islamic state.
they lost badly in eastern syria. they lost very badly. that's how the islamic state took control of oil fields. they're holding their own right now in northern syria, not far from the turkish border. but it's a hard fight, it's a desperate fight. they would benefit from greater and more reliable material aid in the battles against the is m islamic state in northern syria. we just had delegation here from the iraqi kurdish government, like the iraqi kurdish ma peshmerga, they would benefit from american air strikes. they would benefit more than assad because those air strikes up in northern syria would help the moderates we're trying to help secure the moderate's vital supply lines. assad doesn't even have forces that far north in syria anyway.
my last point is that we have to go into this with our eyes open. le the moderates, their primary enemy is the assad regime which has killed for man syrians than has the islamic state. so as we try to work with them, they will always be thinking about how to manage their two-front war. islamic state on one side. assad regime on the other. but as their resources from the entire coalition of countries that secretary kerry and the administration is assembling, as their total resources increase, they will have more resources to devote again of the islamic state but i doubt all of their new resources are going to be used only against the islamic state. i think we have to understand that going in.
mr. chairman, i will be happy to take questions later. thank you again for your invitation. >> thank you. >> chairman, ranking members, distinguished committee members thank you for allowing me to testify. it's an honor. have i been engaging with sunni iraqis. most recently, in support of my research on sunni iraqi perceptions also. my remarks are based on relationships and on my research. i will outline options the u.s. and allies can take in order to help free northern and western iraq from islamic state dominant. the thrust of my proposition is that the success or failure of any effort hinging not on tactical considerations or tribal engagement issues but on the wreck sillization.
they generate considerable fear. also because the ongoing sunni revolt against iraq has given is an opportunity to lack on to the sunni host. i.s. serves the purposes by fighting with a temporary accommodation. in late 2014, we have a situation in iraq that closely resembles that in late 2004. iraqis are disenfranchised from their government. they don't trust the coalition. underlying all of this is the desire to turn out the extreem t extremists. the ways in which they might be ejected matter a great deal. the coalition counterterrorism approach which has air strikes, iraqi operations will reduce i.s. influence and power in iraq. the coalition plan to defeat and defaces a range of challenging. i will --. in al anbar.
second, the offensive capability of the iraqi army is questionable. they may be able to mount a successful campaign into mosul but more likely they'll move slowly, haltingly and have insufficient force to overcome many of the objectives they'll face. third, the iraqi army is not structured, trained or inclined to k ukt the kind of thoughtful counterinsurgency campaign that appears necessary in the sunni provinces. instead they're likely to conduct the kind of tactical campaign they executed in anbar in 2014. this approach is unlikely to generate grassroots sunni support for the government. it is critical to the success of the coalition campaign. this kind of uprising a revolt against i.s. is possible to the
certain loogs i'm laying before you this afternoon. to achieve this some hope to force a reprise of the 2006-2008 awakening movement by ensentivizing sunni with military aid. simply paying or incentivizing sunni to fight at the local level absent national reconciliation is likely to perpetuate rather than reduce instability in iraq. if not addressed the ongoing revolt will continue even if i.s. is ejected. in this event the second awakening is likely to end the same way as the first, with armed angry sunni fighters turning against the government in a recurring cycle of violence. president obama and senior administration officials have correctly stressed that success against i.s. is dependent on iraqi reconciliation and positive leadership. i recommend two mutually supportive approaching, one solely iraqi and one for the broader coalition to capitalize on this strategic assumption. prime minister al abadi has a window of opportunity now in the early stages of the campaign to make moves toward genuine
reconciliation. the coalition should encourage him to enact all grievance resolution measures within his authority in one fell swoop. following this top level iraqi action, all coalition activities should be predicated on reconciliation. this may mean taking some tactical risk but these risks will be taken in the hospital of achieving long-term stability rather than short-term tactical success. stopping i.s. now is wise. current i.s. action should be applied aggressively to keep the organization on its heels. in the case of i.s. military force is necessary, yet addressing root causes of any insurgency is also historically proven to be the best and most lasting way to defeat insurgent groups. leveraging reconciliation and using military force to support reconciliation rather than using reconciliation to support military force seems to be the least costly and possibly the only way to defeat islamic state in iraq and to stabilize that country. i look forward to your questions. thank you. >> well, thank you, thank you both for your testimony.
ambassador forth, let me start with you. one of the main arguments that the administration has presented in addressing members of congress' concerns about the vetting for the fighters that we seek to train and equip, the so-called moderate vetted syrian rebels, is we know them. we know them. and i can tell you that, as this issue has come forward, that i am constant ly caught by colleagues for which this is one of their central question. not their only question but one of their central questions particularly as this vote comes up. my question to you is do we really know these fighters that would receive u.s. training and equipping if congress provides the authority? and are there enough willing, capable fighters that would pass u.s. vetting standards, do you
believe? >> the answer to the second question is a simple yes. there will be enough. actually, the problem has always been, senator menendez, that there have been more willing fighters in the free syrian army than they've had materiel, guns ammunition, et cetera. the question is do we know them. two things i would say. first, we don't know all 1500 groups because some of the groups are just two or three guys and they have a video camera and, wow, you're a group of freedom fight eers there is actually a pretty small number of serious groups. when i say serious, i mean that have 100, 1,000, 5,000, that group is small. it wouldn't pass more than 15 or 20. funny how that's never mentioned in the press. those groups, we don't work with all of them. some are beyond the pale politically in terms of not being moderate, like arad asham
which has sectarian tendencies and may well impose a state. that's a big group. not provide assistance to them. we have groups and the state department was providing nonlethal assistance to. yes, we know them. it's not a secret that i met them on occasion in places like turkey and i went over the border and met them in syria about 14 months ago. we know them and we've talked politics with them, we've talked about the nusra front with them. those i think we know, and we've had more experience just in the last seven, eight, nine, ten months with them as well. so i think the groups that we need to help that will have an impact on the ground, we know them. >> so we know them, and you believe that a sufficient enough number of capable fighters would
pass u.s. vetting standards? >> yes, i do -- i feel very strongly about that. >> that's very important to know. now, in an article in sunday's "new york times" there was a report that says mr. assad and his closest advisers have looked at the american decision to undertake anti-isil military strikes in syria as representing a victory for their longstanding strate strategy, which is obliterating any moderate opposition to his rule and persuading the world that he faces a stark choice between him and the islamist militants who threaten the west. how do -- how do we respond to those who raise that concern? how do we prevent assad and his iranian and russian backed forces from seizing back territory after military strikes
further squeezing the moderate syrian rebels. >> two comments on that quickly, senator. first, assad doesn't have enough forces. he's been seriously depleted. that's why he couldn't hold the air base in topka, for example, where they actually flew some of their senior officers out and then left hundreds of their soldiers to be murdered by the islamic state of iraq and alam. and they couldn't hold other parts of eastern syria, for example. he doesn't have the troop to put back in. his forces are very stretched. he was depending a lot on hezbollah and iraqi shia militia. the iraqi shia
destroy the political opposition, the moderate political opposition and the armed fighters attached to it. if we don't go forward on this proposal to help the moderate armed opposition, i think he will say indeed my strategy is working, the americans will come around and eventually deal with me. and that will actually make it even harder to get a resolution to the syrian crisis. >> which is in part why we had an authorization in the committee a year ago which is your view. part of what i want to do here is try to get some of the earn
ks of my colleagues responded to by virtue of your expertise. secondly -- thirdly, the authorization language submitted by the authorization in order to stand up, rain andy quip the effort for the syrian opposition, one defending the syrian people from attacks by isil and the syrian regime. facilitating the central rfss and territory controlled by the opposition. two, protecting the united states, its friends and allies and syrian people from threats imposed by terrorists in syria and three, promoting the conditions of a negotiated settlement to end the conflict in syria. do you agree that those should be the stated purposes? would you change or add anything to them? >> sorry, i hadn't seen the language. these seem reasonable to mep about i would just caution that
getting to negotiate is going to be a very long and hard process. i wouldn't want to pretend that we could get there quickly. it's -- geneva was a bad failure. and until the regime feels more pressure. they're already under pressure. there's a whole campaign called scream of the nation criticizing assad more keeping his throne, they call it. and sending young aloise to their graves. there are cracks which we haven't seen before. but i don't think this is going to be fast, senator. so the first goal of containing and starting to roll back isil, those are in short-term things we have to work on right away. negotiations will come later.
>> and do you think -- senator mccain's back so he'll probably ask this question on its own, but i think it's an important one. do you envision the moderate vetted syrian rebels understanding that if we're training and equipping them with our focus being isil, that they will look towards that fight even as their main goal is to displace assad? >> absolutely they will for two reasons. one, isil is actually threatening their supply lines right now. and there are hundreds of members of the moderate syrian opposition -- and i mean butchered, cut their throats, video, the whole nine yards. so there's no -- there's a lot of bad blood between them. that's the first reason. second reason is in places where
isil was in authority, especially in northwestern syria, in idlit province, there was a popular reaction against them. and that public popular support helped the moderate armed opposition actually eject isil fighters out of that province and also the same thing happened in aleppo to the west of the city. there was also an uprising, senator, a very big uprising against isil in a province where an entire tribe rose up against them. but they didn't get any help. and that's not a criticism of us, per se, but they just -- they lost a military battle and isil killed -- i've seen estimates as many as a thousand of the tribesmen afterwards in retaliation. so there will be constant problems and fighting between the moderate armed opposition and isil.
i don't see any way that that's going to end. >> syrians just in general are mediterranean people and they do not go for this kind of very heavy duty conservative salafi type state. they're just that kind of fundamentalist religiously. >> these insights are very important. i do have questions for you, but my type has run out. in deference to my colleagues, i'll come back to that. senator corcoran. >> thank you for your time and testimony. ambassador ford, i think we've all experienced or most of us, refugee camps looking into the eyes of syrians who counted on us to do a lot of the things we said we were going to do and didn't do. and their brothers and cousins and uncles were butchered and we never supported them like we
said we would. you actually encouraged them out doing your patriotic duty. we encouraged them out. and in fact we didn't follow up with much that they thought was coming. and when we did, it was delayed i want to thank you for your service and heerdship in syria and i think probably all of us on this panel probably wish to do so. my question to you is what is the mentality now of the syrian opposition having seen promised support if not being what was envisioned, what is their mentality, their attitude towards the united states right now related to helping them now against assad? >> senator corker, thank you.
just to be clear on the record, i did not encourage them but i did defend their right to protest peacefully. when i was in the country i said do not resort to violence because it will cause problems even for us if you do that. that's ancient history, but just to be clear what we did. we didn't encourage them out, but we absolutely stood for their right to protest peacefully, in the u.n. charter for human rights. what is the mentality of sear yags opposition right now? towards us, i think we both know there's a lot of bitterness, 200,000, maybe more have died. i think there's very grait grear that the united states didn't intervene militarily to stop that. there is a belief that we could have stopped it. not sure that belief is accurate, but in any case it's widely held. and so we have a credibility problem and we have a credibility problem, senator
corker, with some of these groups even. you don't regain credibility overnight. it's based on new shared experiences. were we to go forward with the administration's proposal, and i certainly hope we do, i thing with the passage of time, credibility and confidence can be restored. but i think it will be bumpy at the start. >> one of the things that -- thank you for that. one of the things that people have said -- by the way, i strongly support it, as most people did here arming especially back in may even before a year and a half ago and i think we might be in a different situation today. i would say we would be in a different situation today if we had taken action at a more -- at a better time. i still support what's getting ready to happen, although i have a lot of questions. what, relative to the moderate opposition being trained and
armed, some people have said who have been close to this issue that there aren't enough -- i know you answered a question specifically to menendez -- but there aren't enough and it's very difficult and expensive to train these people, that 5,000 troops over the next year, short-term training in saudi arabia, getting more sophisticated weapons after they have proven themselves on the ground, is something that is not going to be particularly effective. could you respond to that? >> syria is a big country, senator and 5,000 is not a lot for a country of that size. the syrian armed opposition is a lot bigger than 5,000. the latest numbers i've seen for the non-nusra, non-isil groups still in the range of 80 to
100,000. i think most people are saying it's more on the lower end of that. so say 80,000. some say higher. the islamic state, you probably saw the same things in the press i did. somewhere, 20,000 to 30,000 of which some are in iraq and some are in syria. so it's not as if the 5,000 would be the only ones on the field. i think there will be a lot of others on the field. and although we're not helping some of the harder line islamist groups like arad asham, arad asham is also fighting isil right now and isil killed a number of arad asham prisoners. we're not in that exact fight in the groups that we have helped areód not in that fight but the are other people also fighting the islamic state. i don't look at it as only 5,000. >> knowing what you know about the way things are on the ground, is what's being laid out
something that will evolve into an effective ground strategy or are there additional components that you, knowing the country the way you are, are necessary if we really want to destroy and defeat isil are necessary to make that happen? >> i would think we're goingx t get into a long-term relationship with any of these groups that i mentioned, it has to be really carefully coordinated with other countries in the region that have been funneling in help. and it's got the be centralized in a way, senator. there's too much stuff going to too many disparate groups and it actually has made the job of the armed coalition difficult. we hmo to be tough with some of the allies. that's on the diplomatic political side. on the ground, senator, as isil
is pushed out of places, it will be really important to try to get help into the civil administrations. the syrian government won't go into these place.4+ and again these are, in a sense, the political side of the opposition linked to the moderate armed opposition. and so the state department has worked in some places with these people. i think there's going to have to be a dedication of resources and program money to back fill as isil is pushed ow of places. so that the lights stay on some hours a day so that there is clean water some hours of the day. maybe so schools can reopen in some places. that kind of thing. >> just one more question. i know time is short. we put a lot of stock in idris. and many of us got to know him and yet we didn't support him. left him hanging. trucks that were supposed to be delivered to him, were delivered
months late. things -- i mean, it was almost like a -- i don't even want to use the word because it's such a negative connotation to the activities we undertook. has there been a control and command established for the moderate opposition that is workable after we, in essence, again, undermine by not really doing the things we said we would do, not that idris was general patton, but too do we h someone there, an organization to deal with command and control? >> i think this is a question that tyou'll want to be asking going forward. idris was not empowered not only by us but other regional states that were funneling assistance in. he was always in a very
difficult position. i think going forward, if we want the moderate armed opposition to be successful we have to figure out a way to get a more centralized command structure and aid goes through that structure and all countries must support that structure and not help friendly group over here or friendly group over there. >> senator rubio. >> thank you, thank you both for being here. thank you, ambassador. a couple points that i wanted -- first, i want to go back in time simply for purposes of pointing fingers of saying who was wrong or right but i think it's important to learn lessons from this. s this my prim egs in this conflict when this arose -- and by the way, this was important to remind that this was not a u.s.-instigated thing. this was syrians who wanted to get rid of assad. in the initial stage the rebellious were syrians. but the decision not to go in and empower them early created a vacuum that attracted foreign fighters from all over the world to pour in and take advantage of that situation.r÷÷
in your opinion, had we been more forceful:a early on, we ca go back 2 1/2 years in time knowing what we know now and had empowered those groups early on to be more capable, do you think that it's possible that you would -- that that space that was left there for isil may never have existed? in essence having a more forceful group on the ground, the syrian military defectors early on would have closed off the opening for some of these more radical foreign fighters to come in and be able to take advantage of the chaos on the ground? >> senator, i do think that. i've said that publicly before. and in particular, three things, cash, ammunition and food. and had more of the moderate groups i'm talking about that are not seeking to impose an islamic state by force, had they had these things, cash, ammo, food, in greater supplies in, say, second half of 2012, it would have been very hard for
masouda to gain recruits. i heard that repeatedly from the free syrian army. they couldn't pay salaries, the other guys could. you're a liberation movement, why do you need salaries? you got to understand the fighters have families. they've got kids, they've got parents they have to take care of. so yeah, if there had been more back then, i think the problem today would be smaller, but i'm encouraged at least that now i think there's an understanding of that, and if this program goes forward, i think that will actually help reduce the recruiting of isil and nusra. >> the second question i wanted to ask and touches upon a theme that senator mccain has also explored. these troops are on the ground that we want to work with now. the biggest threat they face, the people who are targeting them right now the most although they will fight isil but the group doing the most damage to them militarily is assad. it seems from here to appear that to be that assad has
undertaking a very tlib rat strategy of trying to wipe out what we would call moderate forces so that the world is left have a very simple choice fp if you want to defeat isil in syria you have to align yourself with assad. he's the only alternative to them if he can wipe these more moderate groups out. then over the last few hours, days and weeks he's ramped up the effort to wipe them out in pursuant to that strategy. do you agrees that the calculation he's made and, if so, how could any effort to equip and empower and capacitate these groups, how could any effort to do that be successful if we don't protect them from the assault that's being undertaken against them? and as i asked the secretary when he was here two hours ago now when i asked him questions, there might not be anyone left for us to arm or train if assad is continued to give free rein to target them and try to eva
eviscerate them. >> i do think that's assad's strategy. it's very evident. just look at what he's doing day by day, it's clear. i do think the moderate armed opposition has some staying power, and if the administration's proposals are adopted and go forward, i think that will help bolster them and they'll be in the field for the long term. but, but absolutely they're going to fight bashar al assad. i think the idea that they would somehow turn away from that fight, the original fight and focus solely on isil is simply not realistic. >> they can't ignore the fact they're being attacked. >> precisely. and in the end, i talked about the bad blood between isil and the armed moderate opposition, but there's plenty of bad blood between them and the assad regime, too, not to mention the air strikes you're talking about.
i do take heart, senator rubio, that the armed moderate opposition, i think they've gotten more supplies, though i'm not sure where from. but they have been making some gains on the ground and in particular against the syrian regime. and in particular up in the area between damascus and aleppo, hama and homs up there, there's a lot of heavy fighting, also along the lebanese border in a place called kalamun, where they suffered a big defeat in may and june of 2013. they've actually retaken a lot of those places. part of it is hezbollah had to redeploy to other places and this just goes back to the manpower shortage of the regime itself. as we go to the american people and make the argument we need to do this, i'm in favor of doing this, i've called for this for quite a while and was part of those on the committee that voted to do that while back, the
american people will best understand when either a face or a name. but right now a generic term, moderate rebel, but we don't know who they are. in the absence of being able to point to who they are it leads to misinformation that i've seen in the press including member of congress who have made claims that are not just inaccurate but outrageous as to who some of the groups are and who we'll be working with. can you help us navigate some of the local organizations. there are groups that we've heard, the steadfastness movement is one. but other groups like this. i don't know if that's the right example but who are some of the groups that fit the bill of who we would look to work with? >> i'll quickly name a few. they're in my win testimony. i'm happy to provide members of your staffs more information later. haraka hasam, the hasam movement has fighters in the south. they're one of the groups.
they actually are kind of more or less fighting the nusra front right now as well as the islamic state and the regime. so they're in it up to their eyeballs. there are two units of the moderate opposition that are mainly officered by recently defected syrian army officers. one is called the 101st divisionals although i don't think it has anywhere near in the divisions worth of men, i think it's in the range of 3,000. the 101st, kind of ironic. too bad dave's not here. and the 113th led primarily by recently defected army members. you might remember there was a syrian air force pilot who flew his plane to jordan a couple of years ago. that pilot is the commander of the 13th division now. but it's not a division in terms of like 13,000, 15,000. a couple thousand. >> senator johnson.
>> mr. chairman, ambassador ford, you mentioned a word that i really want to be the crux of my questioning is credibility. i want to explore the credibility of our commitment and credibility of our strategy. so first, in my questioning of secretary kerry, i quoted the president when he said that our safety, our security depends on our willingness to do whatever it takes to defend this nation. and, of course, by taking off the number of options off the table, i certainly am concerned about that credibility of our commitment. what is your view in terms of our potential coalition partners. they have seen this as well. do they feel there's any cred it to our commitment to the defeat of isis? >> i think the meeting in riyadh was really interesting, i'm sorry, in jebdah.
i was really surprised that the iraqis brought the foreign minister there, that was something when i was working five years during the war with all of our ambassadors there, we could never get the saudis to do that. never could get the saudis to do that. so i think that's a change and it's significant. it's symbolic, but it's a start. i think ultimately, senator johnson, our credibility by counties in that region, saudi, emirates, qatar, turkey, will be judged by what we do ourselves in the next few weeks and months. if the proposal to help the syrian armed opposition doesn't move forward out of washington this week and gets bogged down, i think our credibility will suffer not only with the syrian opposition but it will suffer with counties in the region. >> let me quick ask, is it true that the saudis are willing to base as well as pay for that
training effort? >> i haven't received any classified briefings since i left government, senator johnson, but it seems everything i'm seeing in both arabic language media as well as english language media says that's the case. >> if that's the case, let's face it, the moderate vetted syrian rebels will be armed and trained. wint make sense, that being the case, wouldn't it be better for the u.s. to be involved this that training especially if we pay for it? >> totally. >> that's the argument voting for that authorization? >> i'm assuming. i haven't received any classified briefings. you know more than i do. i assume there will be u.s. personnel working with them as well as saudis. >> i understand our colleagues' concern about who they'll be training. but i'd rather be involved this that process, reduce the chance that the wrong individuals be trained by whoever. >> we'll be much safer from isil
in the future if we lead this effort rather than hand it off to someone else. >> mr. connable, you've been sitting here. do i actually utilize you in the testimony here. i want to talk about the credibility of the strategy. there's two major steps to the offense. first of all, to drive isis out of iraq and secure iraq again, then you've got the whole mess in terms of syria. let's go back in history. i think both of you gentlemen were there in iraq during the surge. we had greg mcguirk testify before us. i was trying to put this thing in context using some numbers. we had about 6,000 to 8,000 al qaeda in iraq at that point in time were the estimates. we had 130, surged over 160,000 u.s. troops to defeat al qaeda in iraq. now we've got 31,000 isis. we have 1500 noncombat troops on
the ground. we've got an iraqi security force, we have the kurdish peshmerga. how credible is it that we're going to be able to, first of all, just get isis out of iraq with that force? >> i start by saying i don't put a lot of credence in the numbers that we had either in the first iraq war that we have now, i don't believe we have any degree of accuracy there. assuming we're within in order of magnitude there, i don't thing the key to this in 2006, '07 and '08 was the surge. the announcement of the surge helped strengthen our people on the ground. it was them turning against al qaeda in iraq was the key to victory there. that's the key to victory now. whether there are 10,000 i.s. in iraq or 30,000, over time that becomes less relevant when you look at how much territory they have to control. if that's hostile territory they'll have a real hard time
doing that. just bombing them and trying to force them out with iraqi units, i think that's much lower. >> the key here is reconciliation between the sunni and shia in iraq. the question i wanted to ask, either one of you or both of you, i'm trying to think of the exact term you used. the grievance resolution measures. is the shia government threatened enough to actually do what you thing is necessary, pass those grievance resolution measures to bring the sunnis back into the government? >> frankly i think the chances of reconciliation are low. i think it's the best strategy and probably the one that's going to lead to long-term success, but haid ar al abadi is in a difficult position. they have no enthusiasm for reconciliation with iraqi sunni. he's got other fragmented elements of the shia that he lass to deal with, they just voted down a couple of nominations for key posts in his
cabinet. i don't hold out a great deal of hope, but i do think that's where we need to put all our emphasis. >> go ahead, ambassador ford. >> i totally agree with what brian said, that the key to the success in iraq back in the period 2007, 8, 9, was getting sunni support. the presence of our troop was vital but the key part was to get the buy-in from the local populations. just one little thing on your question about are the shia today, 2014, are they sober, brian is right the nominees for such sensitive positions in the cabinet were just disapproved by the iraqi parliament yesterday. not a good sign. however, i have also seen prime minister al abadi say they will not send the iraqi army deep into sunni regions again and
that they're going to try to build a national guard. i've seen him say that. so i think now what they're arguing about in iraq, if i understand it, is who do they trust enough from among the shia an the s and the sunni to do that mission. the proof will be in the pudding. i've spent five years in iraq. i learned trust nothing at first look. but i at least was encouraged that abadi said we will not send the iraqi army deep into the sunni provinces. again we'll get a national dpard. >> i have more questions but i'm out of time. >> senator mccain. >> i thank the witnesses and thank you, mr. koconnable for being here and thank you ambassador ford for your outstanding service. mr. connable, if i got you right, the iranians are in a position of significant influence in baghdad right now, is that correct?
>> i believe that to be true. >> that can't be good for our interests over time. >> i agree with you. >> and another legacy of total withdrawal. >> i think that would have happened anyway. i think it was exacerbated by the fact that the western and northern parts of iraq collapsed. >> ambassador ford, is there any doubt about the viability if, given the proper training and equipment and you mentioned, my understanding is, that isis has given them as much as $2,000 a month because they've got plenty of money, that there's no doubt in your mind that if we do it right, the fsa is viable? >> with much less support than we've been giving, they've actually held ground and advanced in a few places. >> and i share that view. the thing that's frustrating to me, all of this stuff that people accept, they've made a
deal with isis, they can't fight, and having known them as you've known them a lot better than i do, they'll fight and they need our support in order to do that successfully but they're not about to become part of isis or al nusra if from time to time they have to have a cooperation because of their straitened circumstances. >> that's absolutely true they're in a tough situation, a two-front war is never fun, but i'm very impressed that they've held up as well as they have despite the difficult circumstances. so in my view, i conclude that it is an excuse that people use, frankly, to not have us involved, and i don't expect you to comment on that. but here we are, again, i want to sort of pursue what i was pursuing, the line that i was
with secretary kerry. we're going to train them, we're going to equip them, but we're not going to protect them from these air strikes that are so devastating to their capability. the barrel bombs, the helicopters, the fixed wing, which by the way included, as you know, is the main way for bashar assad to move his people and materiel around iraq. so isn't it -- we're asking them to fight, we're asking them to rick their live, and yet we won't give them the protection from the air attacks which would be the major source of casualties for them. make sense of that for me. >> well, i think we both know that there are concerns that if we provide surface-to-air missiles, that they'll be somehow transferred to the nusra front or isil or something like that.
one encouraging sign i take from the recent fighting, senator mccain, up in hama, which is a city between damascus and aleppo, the regime has a very important air basep and using standoff weapons, mortars and such things, the free syrian army was actually able to bring most of the air traffic to -- at the hama military airport to a stop. >> i'm impressed with what they do. but if i'm a syrian and i'm being armed and trained and asked to go into battle and i see that we're not giving us the capability even much less the united states taking out that air power, it's not great for my morale. >> our refusal to provide surface-to-air missiles has been a gigantic irritant not only to the armed opposition fighters but to the population in general that's getting barrel bombed. there's no doubt of that. >> did you see -- i'm sure you
saw the quote i gave from secretary gates, his comment today that we really can't succeed without boots on the ground is basically what he was saying. >> i didn't see secretary gates' remarks. >> well, i guess i could read it to you again, but do you think that in your estimate that the 5,000 being trained and not taking out bashar assad's air assets, telling everybody that it's isil first as if we can't address two adversaries at the same time, that the chances of success without much more significant involvement on the ground and it doesn't mean combat units but air controllers, special forces, et cetera, that basically secretary gates was saying we're going to have to do that over time. >> i think several things on this, senator mccain.
first, 5,000 is not enough. syria is a really big country. but there's going to be more than 5,000. i think already in the elements of the armed opposition excluding nusra and isil, 80,000 plus. the 5,000 might be one of the better parts and might be the part that we would have more influence, but we'll have more influence if we provide more weapons and cash anyway. second point with respect to isil first, i just think realistically, of course, the armed opposition is going to fight assad even as they fight the islamic state. we would be foolish to think otherwise. so -- >> the question is do we help them to do that? and if we help them to do that we neutralize the air assets. >> we have not neutralized the air assets, obviously. there have been horrific barrel bomb attacks almost daily. we have been providing other
help. we suffer a credibility problem, senator mccain, i'm not going to argue with you on that. we have been providing other help which they use against the regime. i would actually argue that help that we have provided has actually enabled them to make advances in places like southern syria and northern syria. the aid has actually been effective that way. >> there's no doubt in your mind they're not going to join forces with any extremist organization? >> as i mentioned, i'm glad you asked that question. i actually have raised with them, when i was working at the state department, the problem that nusra poses for us. i get a rr consistent answer. i got a very consistent answer, which is we don't like them either. we're not -- we don't like al qaeda. nie these are defected army officers or people that were civilians
but were high up in the syrian military before they went into civilian life and then they became leaders in the free syrian army. we don't like them either, but you can't ask us to not deal with them when they're over on the next neighborhood and we're pushing against the regime and they're pushing and not coordinate with them. they said that's not reasonable because we don't have enough stuff to do this by ourselves. and they were very blunt with me. and said, you give us more stuff, we won't have to deal with them. >> mr. connable do you have a comment on that aspect of it? >> in regards to syrian air power, i think it would be very interesting to see if we eventually do put title ten adviser on the ground in syria what affect that will have on the assad regime's decision to attack the syrian army. if our special forces teams are providing higher level advice there, i think the syrian government would be very reluctant to attack those
forces. >> thank you, senator. one last question, mr. connable, you made a very point ed effort to make the case that it was the sunni awakening that was the critical element in the success, yes, the surge, yes, the other elements, but without the sunni awakening, that we might not have had the success that we ultimately achieved there. so what steps must, in your view, the iraqi government take to facilitate reconciliation with the alienated sunni tribes and anbar province and other sunni majority areas in order to reduce support for isil and to get them to have a second awakening? >> yeah, as i've stated, that's
the fundamental question. there is one major problem, and i think one major opportunity. the major problem is the sunni political leadership are so badly fragmented that there's really no hope for some kind of negotiated settlement at the top level or even with regional leaders. there simply is not enough credibility there in the sunni leadership to ray lou thallow t happen. how far the real opportunity that the sun ne a dispersed way have accumulated a lot of the grievances that they think are most kriblcritical to them. it's almost like a laundry list. i've included that in my testimony here. abadi listed another laundry list of these when he assumed office and put his government together. that was a very positive step. he's already announced the things that need to be done. the trick is executing. i think about 50% o the things he identified -- and you can
probably add in another small group of things that could be critical, he could probably do with a stroke of a pen. the others require deliberation of the government. i think he should do whatever he can under his own authority immediately and together. if he's able to do that, the sunni i've spoken to would react quite favorably to that. a first step but an important one. >> even the sunni leadership as you describe it is fragmented, there are some universal issues that they've raised that, if addressed as part of reconciliation, would be cross cutting? >> i think prime minister abadi is speaking to the sunni people and not the sunni leaders. i think they are cross cutting, yes. >> well, this has been very helpful. you have the thanks of the committee for your insights. this record will remain open to the close of business on friday, and with that this hearing is adjourned.
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society. and thank you so much. my hope is that we have many, many more of these kinds of shows. just like this morning. thank you. >> continue to let us know what you think about the programs you're watching. call us at 202-626-3400. e-mail us at comments@c-span poen org or send us a twee tweet @cspan # comments. like us on facebook, follow us on twitter. bobby jindal was the guest speaker at a breakfast hosted by the christian science monitor in washington, d.c. he took questions on a range of issues including the louisiana senate race, the theory of evolution and the president's strategy to combat the islamic state in iraq and syria. this is about an hour. >> i'm dave cook from the monitor. our guest this morning is louisiana governor bobby jindal. vice chairman of the republican governors association. his last visit with our hardy
band of breakfast eaters was in march. welcome back, sir. our guest got off to a fast start in hif. the son of immigrants he graduated from brown with degrees in biology and public policy then studied at oxford as a rhodes scholar having turned down acceptances to harvard and yale law. after briefly working at mckenzie and company at 24 our guest became head of louisiana's 13,000 employee department of health and hospitals, at 27 he became executive director of the national bipartisan commission on the future of medicare. then came a two-year tour as president of the university of louisiana which led to president bush nominating him at age 30 as assistant secretary of health and human services. next ran and lost a race for governor in,000 but in 2004 was elected to the house. first indian american elected to congress. he was leekted to governor of
louisiana at 36 the youngest in the nation at that time and re-elected with 66% of the vote in october of 2013. the governor's wife are the parents are three young children. he corrected me the last time when i said he helped deliver his last child. all credit to his wife, he said. thus ended the biographical portion of the program now on to the recitation of ground rules. please no live blogging or tweeting, no filing of any time while the breakfast is under way to give us a chance to hear what our guest says. to help you resist that relentless selfie urge we'll mail several pictures to all reporters here as soon as the breakfast ends. if you would like to ask a question, do the traditional thing and send me a subtle nonthreatening signal. we'll allow our guest to make opening comments, then we'll move to questions around the table. since we got started a little late we'll stop at 10:05 instead
of the advertised 10:00. thank you for coming. >> thank you very much for having me, i want to thaj all of you for allowing me to come back. a great honor to be here. back in the spring we did unveil our health care report. that was the first product of america next that's an organization that i've helped to start devoted to creating specific policy solutions to help move our country forward. i'm here to talk about our second policy proposal, about making sure that america realizes our potential as an energy superpower. we've given you a cop of the report, over 40 pages, 42 specific policy recommendations. for the sake of time and to save my host from a heart attack, i won't go through each of those this morning. instead i thought i'd give opening remarks, then open it up to questions, given that you at your leisure can read the report and the recommendations. i want you to imagine if you would that there's a country that had more oil, coal, natural gas combined than any other
country in the world. indeed there would only be one other country that would have half the resources of this country. imagine they're a country that in addition to having these fossil fuels also had the most advanced renewable energy sector when it comes to biofuel, sole are -- solar and wind. now many folks might guess that country would about saudi arabia, russia or china, but good news is that country is actually the united states of america. we're blessed with natural resources and blessed with an advanced energy market. that's the good news. the bad news is we've got a choice to make. right now we have policies in the way of our taking advantage of these energy resources. the reality is right now we've got an administration under the obama administration that are science deniers when it comes to harnessing america's energy resources and potential to create good paying jobs for our economy and for our people. right now we've got an administration whose policies are holding our economy hostage. we've got a choice to make as a
country. do we unleash the energy we have got? do we develop our own energy so we can create good paying jobs? lower the cost of energy for our families, for consumers so that we can grow our economy? or do we continue down a path towards where energy is made more scarce, more expensive and where we harm our economy exporting energy intensive jobs, especially manufacturing-based jobs to other countries all over the world. that really is the choice in front of us and so what we've outlined today in our paper is a path forward so america can harness our energy resources, develop our potential, grow our economy. i'll close with this observation. one of the most concerning things to me about the obama administration, there are a lot of things that concern me from the 17, almost $18 trillion of debt, our incoherrant foreign policy, obamacare and many other policies and many other consequences. one of the most troubling things is this new normal. we're now accepting about 2%
economic growth as a recovery. a new normal where we've got a near record low work force participation rate. you have to go back to 1978 to see these record lows. a new normal where more and more think this is the best we can do, becoming more dependent on government, instead of creating jobs that will help our children and grandchildren into the middle class. harnessing america's resources is one very specific, one big step towards creating the kind of strong economy we need so that our kids can pursue the american dream. that's why we think this is an important policy. big flor econgressman from texas is a co-author with me an this report. others worked on this report. you'll see their name in the report. i want to thank you for inviting me to come speak with you. i'd be happy to take your questions. >> you have a lot of experience on health issues and today president obama's going to be at the centers for disease control and prevention where he's going to anonce, according to what the
administration has been saying, additional measures in response to the ebola epidemic in africa. the ap says that he's going to assign 3,000 military personnel to the affected region. train up to 500 health care workers a week. erect 1700 health care facilities and set up a joint command in liberia. what's your assessment of the u.s. response to the ebola outbreak? >> i'd say a couple of things. one, i do think it is appropriate that we are stepping upper efforts both direct and indirect assistance to the countries hardest hit. even though experts think it's very unlikely we'd see a widespread epidemic here compared to what you're seeing overseas, i think we have got certainly both a humanitarian basis as well as vested interest in wanting to help countries in africa that are hardest hit. when you think of the impact on the political stability, the economic stability, you think about the potential impact on
the entire region and ultimately the world, i think it is important that we lean forward. it doesn't surprise me that america is the first among all nations offering assistance. i think that more could be done by other countries. i think that the world health organization could have been more effective. i think other countries could have been more aggressive in terms of offering assistance. this is an epidemic clearly affecting the resources and the worst hit countries. they don't have the training, the medical personnel and the basic containment equipment. you can see that in terms of the spread of the disease and difficulty in providing treatment in something as simple as burying or cremating the bodies. it's a good thing our president, our government is leaning toward. there are american charities leaning forward, providing assistance as well. it's a part of who we are as an american people. we are the most generous people in the world and respond to humanitarian crises all over the world. whether or not there were a direct strategical interest or
impact on our country in this case, i happen to think there will be if we don't act. but it's the right thing to do. even regardless of that potential impact. it's a good thing that we're stepping up our assistance. not enough has been done by the w.h.o. and other countries today. i think it has been, unfortunately, it does show some glaring gaps and the ability of w.h.o. to respond. that needs to be addressed. this won't be the last potential epidemic we'll have to confront. we need to fix what didn't work when it comes to the w.h.o. and helping to contain and relieve the human suffering from this epidemic. >> you told msnbc's "morning joe" last month that you were thinking and praying, unquote, about 2016 but wouldn't decide until november. i wondered how you were thinking and praying was affected, in at all, by the new cnn poll of new hampshire voters showing you among the also-rans of republican presidential hopefuls. what does it say to you about your name recognition and this -- the effectiveness of the
strategy of rolling out position papers? >> a couple of things. it may suggest you all don't have as many readers as i thought you did. that's the last breakfast i come to. >> another nail in the coffin. >> officially dead. that's why -- >> that's it. >> go straight to the bloggers. which we are doing later today. but that's a whole other story. a couple of things. >> are they feeding you as well. >> you aren't feeding me, but -- >> we are. >> you did offer me food. a couple of things, it is true. look, there's no reason to be coy. i am thinking and praying about whether i'll run in 2016. i said i won't make that decision until after november. i don't look at polls. i didn't look at polls when i ran for governor. i was polling within the margin of error which meant i was at zero at that point. at this point, polls are measuring name i.d. but if i were to decide to run, every
time i've run for office, the reason i decided to run had nothing to do with poll numbers or fund-raising. i made the decision to run for governor and to run for congress because i felt like i had something to offer. i had a unique perspective. i was offering specific solutions and experiences that i didn't feel other candidates were offering at that time. when i ran for governor for the state of louisiana. we're the only state where we had more people leaving the state than coming into the state. we need to make big changes. that's what i got elected to do. i'm not going to bore you with a long list of what we've done in louisiana. after 25 years, we've had six years of in migration. our economy has grown nearly twice as quickly as the national gdp. more people working now than ever before in our history, earning a higher per capita income. more people living in louisiana than ever before. $80 billion of capital investment in private developed projects coming to our state. over 50,000 new jobs coming into our state.
it's the best economy we've had in over a generation in louisiana. we did that by making big changes. wasn't easy. we cut our state budget 26%. cut 28,000 state government jobs. largest income tax cut in our state's history. the point of all of that, if i were to decide to run for office again and decide to run for 2016 it would have nothing to do with polls or finishes-raising. it would be based on the same calculation that i made when i ran for same decision-making process when i decided whether i was going to run before for congress or governor. do i think i can make a difference? do i have something i can do? is this something i'm supposed to be doing. we'll not make that decision until after november. let's focus on winning the senate back. 36 governors races. i'm vice chairman of rga. i was in florida with rick scott on saturday. and i'll be campaigning with some other governors and gubernatorial candidates in the weeks ahead. we have other elections to win between now and then. >> gabe? >> that was a good segue.
i would likior take an the senate race back in louisiana. do you think we'll see a run-off? >> we absolutely have to beat mary landrieu. she's out of touch with the voters in louisiana. she's doubled down on failed policies. votes with harry rieid and the president over 90% of the time. the deciding vote an obamacare. she's chairman of the senate energy committee. has not been able to do anything like getting keystone pipeline approved. an action that would create tens of thousands of construction jobs in our country. by the way, you now see the canadian prime minister calling obama his frustrator in chief. now canadians are looking towards sending their oil towards the chinese instead of their preferred customers, us, the united states. makes no sense. i think we need to replace mary land ru landrieu. i think that is going to happen. we've got an open primary in november because of some court
decisions. we used to do our open primary before november. now our first elections on november, a run-off if necessary would happen in december. it happened in 2002 when mary landrieu was running against mu multiple opponents. if that does happen, i look forward to seeing many of you in my state. she's trying very hard to hide from her record, hide from harry reid and president obama. she can't decide especially in a december run-off. she could lose in november. may not take till december, but i think a run-off is possible. in terms of energy politics, energy is a very important part of louisiana's economy. we're a leading oil and gas producer anshore and offshore. we have many companies that support the industry. but we're also involved in other aspects of energy production as well. i just in the last couple of weeks announced two major capital investments from companies using sugarcane waste
products to convert that into energy. significant companies that work in nuclear and other industries as well. so i think the fact that mary will certainly, despite her position and seniority on the senate in d.c., she hasn't been able to actually produce policy results that are beneficial to our energy economy, our energy industries back home. i don't think that her time in d.c. or experience will be an advantage. if, any it's a disadvantage. what's to suggest more time will allow her to produce any benefits for our energy industry. i think she'll be one of the senators we'll remove that we'll beat as part of taking a majority this year. >> governor, you were the kind of originator of the new republican position on birth control and over-the-counter birth control. i'm wondering if you see in any specific senate races where candidates have adopted this position if it's making a difference for them, and also do u